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37 die in clashes on Philippine island

Feb. 4, 2013 at 12:17 PM

MANILA, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Fighting between the Moro National Liberation Front and Islamic Abu Sayyaf guerillas killed 37 people Monday, officials in the Philippines said.

Habib Mujahab Hashim, chief of the front's Islamic Command Council, said 20 of the victims in the fighting in Sulu province were Moro fighters and the rest were affiliated with Abu Sayyaf, China's state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

The fighting began Saturday after Abu Sayyaf released two Filipino television crew members but kept another hostage. The three had been missing since mid-June.

The Moro National Liberation Front, which signed a peace agreement with the Philippine government in 1992, has been assisting in the release of hostages held by Abu Sayyaf. Besides the journalists, Xinhua said, Abu Sayyaf gunmen were holding at least five foreign hostages.

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